Dox's Final Leap: Victory - Part 1 of 12
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: The Multiverse, the USS Victory
Timeline: 2397, 2286
Tags: Charybdis MacGregor
The disorientation of the earlier leaps was getting less intense as each successive destination stretched longer and longer. The last journey had taken hours, and by this point, Mnhei’sahe had largely lost track of how long she had been traveling on this particularly unusual journey.
Feeling a bit of movement, as reality began to form around her again and the light that filled her vision began to dim, the young Romulan pilot moved forward towards the blurry shapes forming in front of her, and found herself leaping forward onto the bridge of a Starship.
For everyone around her, it appeared as if she had stepped out of the viewscreen at the head of the bridge in a ripple of light before stumbling to a stop against a hard, grayish-black railing. Shaking off the momentary haze in her head, she could hear voices. A rush of voices calling out the exact kinds of things she’d expect to hear on a Starship bridge, like ‘intruder alert’ and ‘red alert’.
Calls for security, tri-corders, and more. Then, as she looked up she heard a Romulan curse in the voice she had grown accustomed to hearing in these leaps: her own. “Imirrhlhhse.”
Looking up, her head was clearing and her vision settled. She was on the bridge of a Federation starship, but it definitely wasn’t the Hera. Looking around, she saw the bridge of a Starship that looked to be from at least a century ago, though none of the other leaps had been in time. At the helm in front of her, she saw herself. Her curly, red hair was quite a good bit longer and the expression not quite as shocked as one would have imagined. But instead of her standard uniform, this version of her was wearing what was unaffectionately dubbed ‘The Maroon Monster’ at the Academy. The uniform last worn about a century ago.
At the tactical station next to the other her was a tall, human female with a strong jawline and dark hair in an updo who was, even seated, rather tall. Another officer in a gold turtlenecked version of that duty jacket uniform who did a double-take from one Dox to the other, then leaned over to the Dox at the helm and whispered, “Rruieh? Is that... you?”
But in between the other her and the tactical officer, it was the sight of the woman in the Captain’s chair behind them that made Mnhei’sahe eyes go wide. Sitting where she’d only seen her before in a dream, clad in the same uncomfortable looking uniform, with jet black hair, decidedly pointed ears and appearing to be remarkably pregnant, was the woman Mnhei’sahe knew as Charybdis MacGregor.
“Char?” Mnhei’sahe muttered as she stood at the head of the bridge in surprise.
An eyebrow rose quite high on the woman’s forehead as she took in the newcomer, and Dox’s mental defenses flared to life... even as the woman’s telepathy flowed, serpentine, through them, around them, over them, inexorably snaking past the erected defenses faster than they could be constructed, insidiously pressing forward. Until with a shock, Dox realized that her mental defenses had been penetrated.
“Mnhei’sahe. Alternate reality, further down the timeline... oh my, you are problematic, aren’t you?” Knowing precisely how much Dox did not care for uninvited mental intrusion, the very pregnant Captain rose from her chair, moving somewhat slowly but with a stately grace. “My apologies for the invasive welcome, but... Lieutenant Commander Dox, may I introduce Lieutenant Commander Dox, alternate reality traveler due to Bulukiya particle exposure. Late-stage, should be here for roughly 18 hours if my projections are correct. We’ll scan for the decay rate to predict your final leaps home, Lieutenant Commander. But in the meanwhile...”
The slender emotionless Vulcan woman with the non-traditional haircut appeared on the Captain’s right, the markings on the white shoulder strap of her uniform marking her also a lieutenant commander. At the science station, a white-haired human male boggled at the readings, looking over to Dox with a wobbling sort of nod. The slender Trill appearing out of the turbolift flanked by redshirted Security officers with phasers drawn- period inaccurate, she realized, as they were the same model Rita favored, from twenty years earlier. As an upraised hand secured the charge of the security forces, Captain Charybdis MacGregor smiled on the left side of her face, the left eyebrow rising with it to give her a grinch-like smirk.
“Welcome to the USS Victory, Miss Dox.”
The Victory. Dox had seen holos of the ship in Charybdis’ home in Scotland months ago, and again in the recreation of it in her dream where she spoke with the spirit of the version from her own reality. But this was real and tangible and, as far as she was aware, impossible. In every reality she had lept into, she had never moved in time. It was one of a cornucopia of questions she had as she tried to process what was happening and push past the anger of the mental invasion.
Glancing across the bridge from Char to the security officers to the alternate version of herself to the tall woman sitting at the tactical station before her own eyebrow cricked. “Uh… okay. It feels like you know a lot more about what’s happening to me than I do, like how I’m here, but… wait… ‘Rruieh’?”
The confused dimensional hopper ran a finger nervously over her ear as she finally processed that the tall woman had called the other her ‘my desire’ in Romulan.
“We should take this off the bridge. Dox, Dox, T’vyn, my laboratory, now. Before someone says something we all may regret, hm?” The arch and commanding woman was moving in that direction now, with something of a waddling gait that seemed somehow undignified, yet like the custom fitted uniform, it was making allowances.
While Dox didn’t know where the ‘Captain’s Lab’ was, apparently it was the starship commander’s ready room, judging from where everyone else was headed.
Walking around the circumference of the bridge, it was more than a little uncomfortable as the officers at every duty station were watching her. Except for the tall woman at tactical who seemed to be pointedly going out of her way to not look at Dox the newcomer. Doing her level best to ignore the unwanted attention, the traveler from the 24th century simply followed the order and caught up quickly with Char, the other her and the Vulcan called T’vyn.
Once into the Ready Room, Dox took a second to look around. The chamber was twice the size of Captain Telvan’s ready room, but seemed to be all casual space save for one table that seemed to dominate the room, a liquid crystal display table that she suspected was likely a rather thick and sturdy transparent aluminum. While the bridge was in dark hues, black screens covering the bulkheads covered in data with a dark blue carpeting, the ‘lab’ was bright and well-lit, in the pale blue of old Science department, and the darker blues of the bridge contrasting the off-white fixtures and features of this model of Constitution, known as the ‘Refit’. A column set against the wall held a crudely carved bust of Janus, the two-faced god of duality and duplicity. The chairs were four in number- none more ostentatious than the next, they were tucked underneath the work table, even as there were simple fabric upholstered benches alongside the port and starboard bulkheads.
As soon as the door closed behind them, the other Dox turned to the pregnant Charybdis, clearly a little disconcertingly. "Captain, this is… really another me? From further along in… my timeline?"
“Yes and no, Ms. Dox. Yes, she is Mnhei’sahe Dox, of house t’Rul nee Starfleet, betrayer of a smuggler mother and pilot extraordinaire. However, while chronologically you are the exact same age, as is the rule of the Bulukiya particle, your own timeline diverged with your Mudd escapade. Thus you ended up marooned in the past, a problem for Starfleet, while this Dox continued back to the Hera.” Turning to address the visitor, the captain slowly eased herself into a chair.
Listening, the Dox from the future stiffened a bit at the mention of her mother and their relationship, which the Victory's Dox noticed.
“I am well aware of your disdain for mental intrusion, Lieutenant Commander. However, when a threat appears on the bridge of my starship, I will act expeditiously. While I did glean a considerable amount of information about you in that initial scan, I will not violate your privacy moving forward. I do hope you understand, given the circumstances.” Before Dox could reply, she continued.
“I will ask one thing of you during the course of your stay on the Victory, Dox... hmm, 2397 versus 2286. Dox the visitor, you will be Dox 97 for ease of reference. Our local Miss Dox need have no such appellation, as she is native here. So, Dox 97, I would greatly prefer if you do your best not to deeply upset our Miss Dox with ‘what might have been’ in regard to her future life had she not become lost in the past. The life that you now lead. You will be gone and will not have to deal with the repercussions, so I ask you to consider yourself, your own mind, and temper your actions responsibly- as I know you will.”
Listening to this Char talk was a decidedly different affair from the much older, more casual woman Mnhei’sahe had met in her own time. And while there were no threats in her statements, it was clear that this Char knew this Dox well enough to know how she would respond to a simple reminder of her responsibilities.
Taking a moment to take everything in, the redubbed ‘Dox 97’ nodded, realizing that this Charybdis had made it clear that she was the master of this vessel and that Dox was expected to behave appropriately. After all, Starfeet was still Starfleet and a Captain in any era was still a Captain. “Aye, Captain. I understand, thank you. That is more than reasonable."
“So… you are familiar with these Bulukiya particles? So, this is something you have experience with?” Dox 97 asked, standing a little above parade rest, though not quite at full attention. She knew previous little about Char's experiences here since it wasn't Char herself that gave her the data on the particles, but her time-traveling Granddaughter, Liviana.
“Yes, I’m afraid so. It was before you joined the crew,” the Vulcanoid vixen gone to maternity directed to the local ‘Dox’. “A brilliant theoretical physicist, Dr. Bulukaya created particles that, when a body is exposed to them, will send the subject skipping through alternate dimensions, a sort of ‘what if?’ of the subject’s life. Unfortunately, his discovery killed him- we’re not certain which reality, but given the state of the body we suspect one of the Mirror Universes.”
“A more apt question is how you came to be in possession of them, which I am certain you’ll be happy to elaborate upon,” the pointy-eared captain said solicitously, although it was abundantly clear from her tone it was not a request. Captain Charybdis as opposed to retired Admiral Charybdis was much more... intense, it seemed.
“Captain, Miss Dox has been through a number of harrowing experiences,” the soft-spoken Vulcan women interjected. When she spoke, her voice was calm and even, emotionless, yet somehow compassionate. “You have satisfied yourself as to her bonafides- might I suggest that perhaps rest and refreshment might be in order? You recall from your own experience how traumatic and exhausting it can be, Perhaps instead of immediate answers, it would be hospitable to offer succor in, as you would put it, ‘safe harbor’?”
Looking from the dark haired lieutenant commander with the pointy ears to the redheaded lieutenant commander with the pointy ears, and the pointy-eared captain sat back and sighed. “Fine, you’re right... I apologize, Miss Dox. We have time for answers. Would you perhaps like to a tour of the ship? I seem to recall you are quite the fan of this era of starship design. And who better to offer you the tour...”
Those nebulous violet eyes settled on the Dox in the maroon monster uniform with something of a smirk. Looking back for a moment at her Captain, that Dox again ran a finger over her ear, glanced over at her counterpart, then back to Charybdis, quelching a bit of obvious anxiety before replying with an expression that radiated you’re really going to make me do this, aren’t you?
But instead, she tugged on the duty jacket of her uniform and replied professionally, “Aye, Captain. I can show her the ship.”
A few minutes later, both Doxes and Lieutenant Commander T'Vyn were making their way down the corridor, on their way to the Victory’s sickbay. The corridors were significantly narrower than what the red-headed Romulan from the future was used to on the Hera, but she had jogged in holographic replicas of the same basic corridors with Rita Paris, so it also wasn’t completely unfamiliar. And ultimately, Charybdis was right. Dox was quite the admirer of the ships of this period.
But, considering the situation, she had more on her mind than the ship itself.
“So… if I’m here because you’re here, then… how is it that you ARE here? The Captain mentioned… something do do with Mudd? Davo Mudd?” The Dox from the future said with a raised eyebrow and a bit more frustration in her voice as they passed a particularly confused looking Ensign that almost bounced off of T’Vyn before continuing past them.
The long haired Dox in the maroon duty jacket took a nervous breath then let out a bit of a sigh. “I was piloting an away mission from the Hera with Rita, Sonak, S’Rina and Sam. We were chasing down Davo Mudd, who had traveled back in time in an attempt to pervert First Contact and bring about a version of the Terran Empire he hailed from. We went back to stop him. Does this all line up for you?”
The Dox from the future nodded as her counterpart continued. Watching her body language, it was clear to ‘Dox 97’ that this version of herself was fairly comfortable here, and based on the timeline as she remembered it, had to have been in this timeline for almost a full year. But she said nothing else, letting her alternate self continue.
“We were flanking the local bar, and he got the drop on Sonak with an Agony disk. I was the closest and took off after him. I chased him to his ship, and when he took off, I was on it with him. His ship’s autopilot was active, and this time, he had a pain rod and tagged me in the closer quarters. By the time I recovered and was able to fight him away from the controls, we had entered the slingshot maneuver around Sol. We were in time warp. I dropped us out of warp- slammed on the proverbial brakes, as I had no idea what his actual destination was.”
“For me, I’m the one that got tagged and Sonak was the one that got on his ship, but Sonak stopped him before they got to warp. That said, if his destination was anywhere between 2063 and 2396… then when you stopped the ship…?” Dox 97 commented with a raised eyebrow, interjecting.
“We slammed out of time warp in 2286. I didn’t know that yet, though. All I knew was that we were falling back into Earth’s orbit in a ship that was falling apart thanks to the torsional pressure I put on it by reducing our speed so quickly. I was able to land the ship… mostly in one piece,” the Victory native Dox said, running a finger over her ear and blushing slightly. “I was able to exert enough control to bring the ship to Starfleet Headquarters once I had the coordinates, and picked up their transponder. I… didn’t know when it was, but in the moment, it made the most sense to aim for Starfleet.”
“We crashed on the landing pad just off the main quad. Mudd was unconscious and I broke my leg in the crash, but I was still able to drag him out before his self-destruct sequence kicked in and his ship exploded. I passed out on the padd, seeing the security forces run towards me in uniforms I’d only seen in museums. The other shuttles on the level were over a century old, and I had a pretty good idea that I had… screwed up.” The Victory’s Dox said sheepishly with a nervous half-grin, as they arrived at the Victory’s sickbay.
T’Vyn stepped forward, taking the lead as the frosted transparent aluminum doors with the caduceus of Starfleet medical emblazoned upon them wooshed open. The doors she recognized, not as ornamental, but as 24 cm thick blast doors, as heavy duty as the ones on the flight deck of the Hera. Looking in, the Dox from the future raised an eyebrow at the unconventional sickbay. “This is… different from the historical records.”
Which was when she recalled Charybdis’ story of the tragedy that would befall this deck of her starship- and everyone in it.
”Siivas died a hero- he and that whole wonderful crew of Sickbay misfits, from the Sulamid color-changing tumbleweeds of pseudopods and eyestalks to Zhir, the noble Efrosian botanist. Andurean Velth was visiting that day that the Bulukiya particles mutated with whatever that virus Spotty brought back with him from his trip through the dimensions, and they became multiphasic entities. Which meant that they were a contagion that was transmittable through force fields, solid objects- anything."
As she took in the clean grey and white of the sickbay, which seemed to have an ergonomic curved design aesthetic to all surfaces and shapes, while there was the tinkling of chimes in the distance, playing a soft melody that for some reason struck her as Vulcan with it’s subtlety, Dox was reminded that this was the past- but not a past she had read about in her history books.
What looked like a nervous system that was ambulating like a 120 cm tall living tumbleweed rolled by, multiple eyestalks protruding from the mass of tentacles that comprised its mass, even as a few of the pseudopods rolled along holding aloft a tray of surgical tools. The being strobed sudden flares of fluorescent green with spots of yellow throughout its mass, like a sudden explosion of color in the room as it hurried towards its destination. A Sulamid...
“The Victory is as normal a Twenty Third Century Starship as the Hera was a normal Twenty FOURTH Century one.” The Dox native to this time said to her future counterpart with a resigned tone to her voice as the Victory’s Doctor arrived in the waiting area.
“Hello, welcome!” the Deltan doctor was slender, anot overly tall- perhaps only 172 cm. Hairless, save for the somewhat wiry and expressive eyebrows, while about his crown he wore a golden chain, upon which hung a single flawless teardrop-shaped emerald. But at this moment, his left eye twitched a few times, almost spastically, and he leaned on the wall for support.
“Oh my, you’re quite the anomaly aren’t... you...” While Siivas Mackenzie was a powerful, subtle and gifted telepath, so too was he a fastidiously polite one. Never did he enter a mind unbidden unless it was a necessity, and never to friends. However, as an empath, so too could he feel emotions. Thus, while the anomalous individual before him triggered a touch of his spacetime dysplasia, it was nothing compared to the sense of dread rolling off the newcomer, as if she were speaking to ghosts. Which, given that she appeared to be Dox, thus from the future, and given his understanding of the Bulukiya Particle, he quickly arrived at a few conclusions. As Yan arrived to press a hypo to his neck, to medicate his dysplasia, he straightened up, put on his warmest smile and extended his hand in greetings.
“My apologies, Mnhei’sahe- may I call you Mnhei’sahe?” The smile that accompanied the words was warm, and the man had a fatherly feel about him. Despite having grown up for most of her life without one, even Dox felt herself reacting to it. “ I’m Siivas Mackenzie, the ship’s healer. Or doctor or physician or chief medical officer or however you wish to define it. I suffer from a malady when it comes to space and time, and those little surprises in them tend to make me react a bit oddly. Not your fault and no harm done- as you can see, I am fine, and I apologize if I startled you. Hello!”
Noticing the strange reaction, The Dox of the Hera’s mental defenses were in place and she was more on guard than not, particularly after Char’s earlier intrusion. Still, she was trying to be as open as possible, given the unusual circumstances.
Taking the offered hand, she gave the customary two pumps and nodded. “No harm done, Doctor. And thank you, Mnhei’sahe is fine.”
The reply was enough to elicit a slight smile and raised eyebrow from the Victory Dox’s eyebrow, who was standing the furthest away from her counterpart. “The Captain’s calling her ‘Dox 97’ to reduce confusion. As in, 2397.”
“I understand the reference but... to be denied one’s name is to deny one’s personage. Have no fear, I’m sure if I call, you’ll know to whom I’m speaking. So, a trip in time to see the past? This must be exciting for you,” Siivas gently guided the three along as what Dox was reasonably sure was a different roiling mass of tentacles and eyestalks rolled by, this one looking at half a dozen of the clunky old PDDs of the era. Ahead, a dark-skinned Efrosian leaned out the doorway, his immaculately manicured distinctive hair and facial features set in something of a scowl.
“Exciting is… perhaps not the first word I would have picked.” The Hera’s Dox replied as she, her counterpart followed the Victory’s Doctor. “But it is… certainly interesting. And… enlightening. It’s not often one gets to see just how many different ways one’s life could have gone.”
“Indeed.” The Victory’s Dox replied, with a bit of a notable attitude towards her alternate selves' comment. “The Captain has an estimate of an eighteen hour window before her next leap, but is hoping to get a more specific countdown, Siivas.”
The Dox from the Hera noticed that her counterpart had softened up a bit every time she talked to the Deltan doctor and she knew why. She was no stranger herself to the Deltan doctor. She had met him once before in her own timeline when Char’s time traveling granddaughter, Liviana, had taken them to the past. To the warm, ancient castle of Eilean Donan on Earth where Char would meet the father to the children growing within her now.
That meant that even in THIS time, the meeting had already happened. But more importantly for this moment, the Siivas of that timeline’s mind was as powerful as this one’s was, and he could sense the presence of the three time travelers through the futuristic cloaks. And in that moment, Dox trusted that Siivas to enter her mind, unguarded. That Char trusted him had been enough. So it was no surprise to her that having been here for a while, this version of her would feel extremely comfortable with him as well.
“We can certainly analyze the particles and get an absolute answer in that regard. Assuming we can survive this encounter,” he said, stopping at a corner and flattening himself against the wall. Which was odd behavior until around the corner came one of the most distinctive and fashionable Klingon women Dox had ever encountered.
Standing a full two meters tall, with the distinctive forehead ridges that were strong yet finely shaped. Unlike most Klingons her ears were also upturned and pointed, while her brows, immaculately plucked and highlighted, were sharply angled, not bushy and low on her somewhat smooth nose bridge. Large honey brown eyes peered out from beneath long, fluttering lashes, on a face with fine bone structure augmented by expertly-applied cosmetics. The large and muscular frame was sleek yet curvaceous- an athletic toned physique, she was not musclebound, but her form was quite impressive and her prominent breasts were high-set and clearly quite firm, as they were somewhat bursting out of a Medical white and blue jumpsuit that looked to be at least one size too small for her.
The sleeves and legs were cuffed, which was more evidence of the poor fit, bit it all came together in a look that was clearly quite calculated to be flirty and fun, while reasonably practical if one desired to show off quite a bit of skin. Which was clearly acceptable on the Victory. Manicured hands with surprisingly long fingernails that were a delicate almond shape on the big knuckled hands of the mocha-skinned Klingon flew to her cheeks in surprise as she spotted the two different Doxes.
Those honey brown eyes grew wide, and she prowled in on the newcomer.
“This one’s not taken, is she, hmmmmmm?” As she spoke the big Klingon woman who smelled AMAZING stepped around the Hera’s Dox, tracing her fingernail over the crimson-clad shoulders, which sent what felt like a shot of electricity through the Romulan woman’s body, who remembered the seductive half-Klingon, half-Vulcan woman from that same, fateful night in the past.
“Qurka...” Siivas intoned gently, and the finger was removed from contact, and personal space was re-established as she leaned down in front of Dox, managing to somehow bring her eves and the deep and yawning chasm of her cleavage together in one frame of view for the visitor from another time and place.
“Hi, Dox. I’m Qurka Qurg, and I liiiiike you.” When she smiled, the teeth were whiter than most Klingons she’d seen, but the teeth, and the smile, both looked... dangerous.
Clenching her jaw slightly, the Hera’s Dox blushed a somewhat hot green as she looked up at the surprisingly elegant Klingon woman and couldn’t believe that her pulse was racing as much as it was. The momentary flush of blood and excitement Dox felt was followed quickly by a wave of shame for feeling it.
“Uh… yes. Yes, I’m taken.” She said, hoping to sound sure of herself, all things considered.
“Mmmmm, you don’t sound all that positive, Mnnnnnhei’sahhhhe,” Again, even the woman’s voice sounded like a prowling, velvety jungle cat stalking her prey, even as she kept her face at eye level to Dox. That spectacularly impressive cleavage that could have given Rita envy heaving slightly beyond those honey brown with flecks of green in them eyes, that really did seem quite warm and inviting. Particularly framed by the dark eyeliner and full thick and expressive eyelashes. Dox had never met a sexy Klingon who was TRYING to be sexy before, and the result that Qurka Qurg achieved was... impressive.
Behind her back, Dox was wringing her wrists as she let out a long breath. The initial flush of passion she felt was turning into anger, and she realized that anger wasn’t exactly going to make a Klingon stand down from their intentions since Qurka’s intentions were being expressed very clearly. So the embattled Starfleet officer from this ship’s future took a step back and replied as dispassionately as possible, “Then allow me to reaffirm my prior statement, Miss Qurg. I am quite taken, thank you. I’m simply here so Doctor Mackenzie can determine how long I’m going to be here before I leave, and nothing more. Thank you.”
“About that, Siivas? Can we get her scanned to suss that out?” The Victory’s Dox interjected, hoping to not see anything happen further between her shorter-haired counterpart and the Klingon temptress.
Standing up straight- which emphasized the height difference between the towering glamazon and the rather stout pilot, Qurka instead dropped into a formal bow. “I apologize if I have offended, visitor. I merely wished to tease, and see if you were of similar stock to our own Dox. I recognize the band you wear and respect the bond it signifies, and you have it on my honor that I would never seek to assault that bond.” Rising up from the bow, the body language once again shifted to flirtatious.
“Same stick up your ass, I see, Mnhei’sahe. Same lack of a sense of humor under stress, still very uncomfortable with her own sexuality. You should have a chat with her, Dox. Might do her a WORLD of good. Well, it was wonderful, we’ll do this again sometime.” With that said, the capri jumpsuit-clad Klingon woman sashayed away, in a cloud of perfume that smelled somehow like unfulfilled promises of debauchery.
The name of the scent was, in fact, ‘Battle Lust’, one of Qurka Qurg’s own unique pheromone-filled fragrances.
As Qurka left, the Victory’s Dox smirked slightly and chuckled lightly and very casually towards the towering Klingon, which elicited a raised eyebrow from the Hera’s Dox. They’re… friends? the Hera’s Dox thought. I wonder if they… oh, do NOT ask, Mnhei’sahe.
Turning back to Dox, Siivas smiled pleasantly, his bemusement readily evident. “I have it on good authority that Qurka takes some getting used to, as an acquired taste. She is... like a strong spice. A little goes a long ways, hm?” The physician said the words with no acrimony nor accusation, instead as observations about someone of whom he was quite fond. In this case, he was quoting the local Dox’s own words, in regard to her own first meeting of the impressive and unexpected Klingon woman.
There was something about how comfortable the Victory’s Dox seemed around this crew that made her counterpart even more uneasy. In truth, the only time she had seen the Dox native to this time seem openly uncomfortable was in how she dealt with the current situation, and Dox had to wonder what all had to have happened in the year the other Dox had spent here on the Victory.
Replying to Siivas, the Hera’s Dox nodded, trying to ignore the feeling that she had been more than a little tempted to engage with the seductive Klingon in spite of her bond. “That’s as… apt a description as any I could think of. So… I know I’ve lept… I think ten times. It’s hard to keep track, but what does that mean? Any idea how much longer I’ll be here?”
“According to the readings... Anuksamon?” Siivas looked to the overhead, when a pleasant female voice chimed in. “The anomalous version of Lieutenant Commander Dox’s Bulukiya particle rate of decay indicates dislodgement from this reality in sixteen hours, forty-seven minutes and thirty-three seconds. There are insufficient active particles in her body for another leap following this one, which will according to all documentation, be the leap back to the anomalous Lieutenant Commander’s own timeline.”
That was definitely not the harsh mechanical ‘WORKING’ computer voice of the era- yet another element of the past that she had to wonder if the historical records were inaccurate, or if it was simply the nature of the Victory’s unique crew and configuration.
“There. That should give you a little something concrete to hold onto. And while it may or may not travel with you, here’s a countdown timer. If it stays behind, at least it will give you some sense of control in this reality, knowing when you are expected to leap once more.” The smooth-pated paternally smiling physician offered the small device, even as he continued. “Your scans otherwise just indicate a lack of hydration, proper nutrition, and rest. I recommend a shower, a good meal, and six hours of sleep minimum, eight if you can manage it. I’d offer a sedative to help you sleep, knowing your unquiet mind. But you don’t trust us enough to accept it, and now you’re embarrassed that I realize that, and no, I’m not reading your mind- I would never do so uninvited. I’m just a student of humanoid behavior- and in your case, I have something of an unfair advantage in knowing you well, hm?”
Glancing over, the Hera’s Dox gave her counterpart a slight glare, again noticing how much more relaxed this version of her was. “Well, obviously you’re not wrong. And no, I’ve not gotten much in the way of rest, and very little else. I had a bit of a nap in one timeline, but I think I leapt as soon as I nodded off, and waking up in another reality was even more disorienting. So, thank you. Having a concrete idea of just when this is going to happen is… comforting.”
“We’re familiar with the phenomenon- done it myself. So we’ve been there, and we understand. If you would like some help, it is freely available to you, but I’ll understand if you’d rather pace and angst for half the night. Not judging,” he held up his hands in surrender with a smile. “Just... as I said, I have some insight into your behavioral patterns, is all. You are of course your own person with different values and choices, but I think dismissing the similarities between you might be something of a mistake.”
Pushing back against the voice in her head that told her it was okay to trust the caring looking Deltan, the Hera’s Dox bit her bottom lip slightly and resisted the urge to fidget with her ear. She found that the familiarity everyone here had with was many of her own affectations was unnerving. “Thank you. I… appreciate the offer. I will consider it.”
“Well, until then, we can stop by Engineering and we can show you the heart of this beauty.” The Victory’s Dox said with a hint of pride in her voice that the counterpart recognized easily enough. “Which will give the Captain time to finish planning dinner. Thank you, Siivas. Training at Twenty One Hundred hours tomorrow, still?”
“If you wish, of course. I’ll understand if you are otherwise preoccupied with your visitation. After all, it isn’t often one is literally visited by the life not led, and I suspect it may offer you some perspective, and perhaps some closure. Try not to judge yourself too harshly, Mnhei’sahe,” he said to both of them, which somehow both Doxes understood. “Whatever your path and choices, know that you have done your best, and be kind to yourself, hm?”
Both women nodded in almost perfect unison rather than saying anything as they turned to leave. Realizing that they both mirrored each other’s somewhat non-committal answer… a trait both obviously still shared when they didn’t quite know what to say… seemed to only increase the awkward tension. But the Dox in the Maroon uniform scowled ever so slightly and turned back as they were heading out.
“Thank you, Siivas. Hopefully, I’ll see you then.” The Victory’s Dox said with a legitimate smile as she led her counterpart out of the unusual sickbay and into the corridor as the group carried on.
To Be Continued…